Border Force officials will join the wave of industrial action across Britain on Friday, starting the first in a series of strikes at airports, while Royal Mail workers leave for two days before Christmas.
Passengers traveling to the UK have been warned to prepare for longer queues at immigration at airports, while many letters and parcels will now not be delivered until Christmas, as staff take wage measures lagging behind inflation.
Heathrow, the largest of six airports where Border Force staff are due to strike, said it expected the vast majority of travel would be unaffected, with no flights canceled before the action protest.
About 1,000 members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union will continue to strike during the remaining days of 2022, except for December 27.
The Home Office, which is responsible for the Border Force, has recruited officials from other departments as well as hundreds of members of the armed forces as emergency manpower to try to mitigate the effects. strikes.
Border Force chief operating officer Steve Dann did not rule out airport closures in a worst-case scenario, and he said the traveling public should expect disruption.
Just under 9,000 flights are now due to land at the six affected airports – Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow, Gatwick, Heathrow and Manchester – during the strikes, carrying up to 1.8million passengers, according to data from the airline. aeronautical analysis Cirium. Civil servants will also strike at a seaport, Newhaven in East Sussex.
Airports are confident that emergency personnel and electronic gates, which will not be affected, will effectively handle most passengers during strikes. The volume of passengers traveling through airports is still only around 85% of pre-pandemic levels.
Heathrow expects departing flights to have little to no impact, with all terminals open as normal, but warned inbound travelers should be prepared for longer waits in the immigration hall, particularly if they don’t have passports that can be used at automatic doors.
Meanwhile, Royal Mail has said it will do all it can to ensure the delivery of last-minute Christmas cards and parcels as tens of thousands of postal workers walk away in an increasingly bitter dispute with its staff of the Communications Workers Union.